In its essence, dreamcatchers is an open forum for furthering the manifestation of Mother's Dream through the merging of the Galaxy Plan with the ground reality. The process by which this is achieved is continually evolving, but the core focus at present is to call relevant parameters (be they new or old, conservative or revolutionary, grounded or surreal) and to formulate pertinent questions regarding the architectural, social, psychological and spiritual implications of the creation of a yogic city. Dreamcatchers aims to achieve this by reconnecting to the spirit and the aspiration which called each one of us here, and hopefully through these efforts, begin to tease out those ideals and visions common to us all.
The dreamcatcher forum has evolved in a peripatetic manner, migrating once a week from rooftop to rooftop (when available) throughout Auroville, and it gathers between six and eight in the morning not only to help move away from a ‘meeting culture' dynamic, but also to create an opportunity to feel into the qualities of each new location in a quiet, contemplative environment.
To help in our search for the elusive ‘Highest Common Factor' which has been playing hide-and-seek amongst us for many years, we are simultaneously exploring ‘open-source' processes (which are loosely based on recent developments in computer programming) to help us find new ways of working together collectively towards this higher aim. Although the initial impetus for this forum emerged from the need for a new architectural and planning approach, dreamcatchers also wishes to include people with as wide a range of cultural and experiential backgrounds as possible in this evolving process, and so far we have had the participation of more than 50 Aurovilians, above and beyond the architectural and planning circles.
The Dream Space itself was the first efflorescence of this process, and it was held over a five day period at the beginning of April 2006. Deciding to locate it near to Certitude Corner, although unusual, was however intentional, as we wish to present the ideas of this, as well as future Dream Spaces, in those locations relevant to their themes, and in this particular case the theme was ‘Entrance' – entrance to the Green Belt, entrance to the city and ‘entrance' in general... A core group of dreamcatchers, those who were able to spare the time and the energy from their usual commitments, came together in the weeks before the Dream Space to ‘heart-storm' ways in which to manifest and present the ideas which had so far coalesced – ways in which we might all work together harmoniously, ways in which to encourage participation and feedback from those who would visit and ways in which to honour and sustain the energy which the Dream Space might set into motion.
These ‘heart-storming' sessions were part of the dreamcatcher Experimentals, held once a week in the late afternoon. These differ from the early morning sessions in that discussion is actively encouraged and solutions to various issues are explored.
The result of this communal process emerged in the days prior to the opening, and manifested as two cloth-wrapped metal-framed cylinders intended to house the contents and the activities, each one two metres high and nine and seven metres in diameter respectively, connected by a three metre diameter circle of white marble chips. Not one but two ‘entrances' were then chosen to lead people to these enclosures, not only due to practical considerations on the site, but also to enable us to explore the different aspects of ‘entrance' which dreamcatchers were encouraging visitors to contemplate.
The entrance from the tar road, with its salmon-coloured theme, invited people in under a ‘Dream Space' banner, then carried them on a path sprinkled with kolam powder through a tunnel of semi-transparent cloth and, after bowing their heads as they passed through a curtain, the powder led them up to the circle of white marble chips.
The entrance from the Certitude parking area, with its ultramarine-blue theme, led people over a much longer route and utilised two bamboo ‘torii' and a series of vertically planted bamboo poles, to lead people visually from one element to the next approaching the circle of white marble chips from the opposite direction. The ‘salmon' and the ‘blue' themes were then repeated at opposite entrances, wrapping various branches in the salmon-coloured cloth and painting certain granites blue, to tie the various elements together. The larger of the two cylinders, wrapped in a midnight-blue cloth, encircled a young banyan whose branches extended just beyond the frame.
The tree had not yet developed its aerial roots, and these were then alluded to by hanging a number of plywood panels from the branches in their stead. Each of these panels, one hundred and twenty by thirty centimetres in size, had either a drawing or a text on one side and a full mirror on the other, and they were hung at random in the space to help nurture a non-sequential experience for visitors – where they could ‘stop-pause-and-ponder' at their leisure. Each panel also had blank sheets where the visitors were encouraged to write and sketch their responses. The smaller of the cylinders, wrapped in a white cloth, was foreseen as the activity space, and this consisted of low tables where children, and those adults wishing to explore their ‘child-within', could use wooden blocks and clay as well as sketching and painting materials to help discover their own ideas of entrance. The ground in both spaces had been covered with white sand not only to deaden people's footfalls to heighten the sense of ‘dream', but also to provide a suitable surface to sit on wherever one liked.
Maps at different scales were hung with sheets of tracing paper on easels, photographs of all the existing Auroville ‘entrances' were enlarged as visual aids and questionnaires were also available to find out more about how people perceived our ‘entrance' at present. Visitors' exploration of the Dream Space was made consciously experiential through the activation of their senses, by including elements such as wind chimes, incense, candles and flowers, as well as the use of the different flooring materials. Another aim whilst evolving the design of the Space, was that we wished to leave the space as we found it, and so the design of all the elements was done in such a way that they could all be dismantled and reused.
The Dream Space saw a quiet, constant stream of visitors over the course of its existence, and we received a considerable amount of positive feedback on the ideas presented. It is now our wish not only to continue this dialogue on the web, both for those who responded initially and those who were unable to be present at the time, but also in some way to explore these ideas on the ground so that the process isn't just one more academic exercise.
Having said that, we are also aware that our role at present is primarily to collect dreams without the threat of imposing any form of decision-making, which we feel can have a tendency to block the spirit of sharing and creativity, so whatever intervention we do choose to make will hopefully be in a spirit of playfulness, joyfulness and light without stepping heavily on anyone's toes. For those dreamcatchers actually involved in manifesting the Dream Space it was an extremely fruitful experience in learning to work together, where in the end the process was as important as the end product. If the momentum continues to build we intend to choreograph more Dream Spaces in the future on other themes, such as the Green Belt, the Bioregion, Transport, the Crown, Aurovilianising Auroville, Holographic City and Quantum Planning amongst many others. We hope to see you there…